The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will be in search of their first ACC win of the season when they visit the Duke Blue Devils this weekend. Kickoff is set for 12:30 EST on Saturday, October 12 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. Fans can find the game on ACC Network Extra.
According to the Week 7 college football odds, Duke is a 17.5-point favorite at home. The game also has an over/under of 48.5 points.
As expected, Georgia Tech is going through some growing pains with Geoff Collins taking over at head coach and transitioning the Yellow Jackets away from the triple-option offense that has come to define the program. But things have been a little worse than expected. The Yellow Jackets lost to FCS opponent Citadel and also had a 24-2 loss to Temple. Last time out, Georgia Tech fell to North Carolina 38-22, dropping them to 1-4 on the season.
At this point, an early-September win over South Florida might be all that keeps the Yellow Jackets from going winless this season. GTU has to play three of their next four games on the road, including a game against a ranked Virginia team. They also close out the season against in-state rival Georgia, and it’s hard to find a game between now and then that the Yellow Jackets will be favored to win.
Meanwhile, Duke will be trying to shake off a disappointing 33-30 loss to Pitt last week. The Blue Devils were able to erase a 26-3 deficit and ultimately took a 30-26 lead with less than 90 seconds left. However, the defense couldn’t hold the lead and Duke ultimately dropped a game that included 10 turnovers, six of which were committed by the Blue Devils.
The good news is that Duke is 1-1 in ACC play and still has a chance to win a wide-open Coastal division. However, things will get dicey for the Blue Devils if they lose this week. They still have road games against Virginia and Wake Forest, two ranked teams, left on their schedule. The Blue Devils also have to play Notre Dame, Syracuse, and Miami in November. After stumbling last week, this isn’t a game the Blue Devils can afford to take lightly given their remaining schedule.
After the Blue Devils managed just one win against the Yellow Jackets between 1995 and 2013, Duke has owned the recent history in this series, winning four of the last five meetings. That includes a 28-14 win in Atlanta last year.
Covering 17.5 points against a conference rival is no joke, especially after Georgia Tech nearly beat the spread last week thanks to some garbage-time points. However, Duke is at home and in need of a win while the Yellow Jackets are truly bad. I’ll eat the points and look for the Blue Devils to win by a wide margin.
The good news for Georgia Tech is they think they’ve found the right quarterback in freshman James Graham. The bad news is that he’s still a freshman who’s learning on the job. He’s completed just 46% of his passes with three touchdowns and three interceptions this season. Even if he shows some improvement this week, he still has a long way to go. On top of the growing pains at the quarterback position, receiver Jalen Camp and center Kenny Cooper have been lost to season-ending injuries, making it that much more difficult for the Georgia Tech offense to succeed with a freshman at quarterback.
Meanwhile, I’m expecting a bounce-back effort from the Duke defense. The Blue Devils are just a couple of weeks removed from holding Virginia Tech to just 10 points. They also held Middle Tennessee to 18 points. Keep in mind that both of those games were on the road. More importantly, the Duke defense was victimized by the six turnovers committed by the offense last week against Pitt. Last week, the Pitt offense only had one scoring drive that went for longer than 25 yards. Unfortunately, it was the game-winning drive in the final minute. But it’s a sign that the Duke defense will be fine as long as the offense doesn’t turn it over and lose the field position battle.
The six turnovers the Blue Devils committed last week aside, the Duke offense has had a good year. Before they were slowed in the first half against Pitt, the Blue Devils had scored over 40 points in three straight games. Quentin Harris has become a suitable passer in addition to being a dangerous runner. I can also forgive one bad day because of how well Harris played early in the season. There’s almost no way the Blue Devils could turn it over six times in two straight weeks. Without the turnovers, the Duke offense should get back to scoring 40-plus points.
Before last week’s loss, I was starting to believe in Duke as a genuine contender in the ACC Coastal. I’m not ready to jump off the bandwagon after one wild game the Blue Devils just happened to lose. Against a Georgia Tech team that has a lot of problems, I think they’ll get back on track this week and cover the 17.5-point spread.